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Exhaust Notes - Editorial

Turbo installations can be as mild or as wild as you want them to be.

Ryan Basseri
Jun 27, 2011

I took your advice and dropped the D16Y8 in order to pick up a B18B1, which I must say is a much stronger engine! I need some help with the new motor. I checked forums trying to find the best way to build my new N/A daily driver. I want at least 180–200 whp, and a compression of 11.0:1 to keep away from those high gas prices. I want to know, are the P30 pistons safe for my motor?

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Hey Anthony! Glad to see you are keeping up with the magazine, and building up your car. As far as your engine build is concerned, you’re at a tricky point right now in the build process. You’re faced with the classic “to VTEC or not to VTEC” question. If you want to keep the B18B head and block and make 180 whp, you will need a very aggressive set of cams, along with a bump in compression and some good tuning. If you want to keep the compression around 11.0:1, then yes, the JDM P30 pistons are an excellent choice. Now if you did decide to go with a VTEC head, you’ll end up bumping compression and placing your motor above that 11.0 compression goal. I would first decide if you want to run the VTEC head, next check out C-speeds ( compression calculator online, and play with all the options. This calculator will allow you to dial in exactly what your setup could be, and give you feedback on what your compression will be in the end. Hope this helps, and thanks for reading!

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I have a ’97 Civic DX hatchback, and the hub bearings are shot. Also, I want bigger brakes. Can you tell me what other car I can get the knuckles and swap on for bigger brakes? I’m trying to take out a couple birds with one stone, so to speak.

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Kyle, if you have a bad wheel bearing and you want to upgrade knuckles, I say find a clean set of ’99–’00 Civic Si knuckles to swap in there. You can also use a pair of ’94–’01 Integra GS-R knuckles on your car, either should work great. If it were my build, however, no matter what knuckle I chose, I would swap in some fresh wheel bearings and get a proper alignment once everything was ready to go. Good luck!

I have a couple of questions that I hope you can help me with. I would like to know if I can do an engine swap to an automatic transmission Civic. It currently has a D17 engine, and I’d like to know if I’m able to put in a K20 engine from an automatic RSX. If I can do it, what will I need to complete the swap? Also, I would like to know what engine internals I can upgrade in order to have better performance and a bit more power to the engine without hurting it. Can I go turbo on an automatic D17 engine without having to change internals?

Automatic-to-automatic swaps are always quite difficult. Generally you run into problems with transmission mount discrepancies and wiring headaches. Wiring can always be solved since they’re just wires, and with enough patience, the puzzle can always be solved! Right off the bat I can tell you the U.S. RSX ECU is a bit of a beast to deal with, as it has its fair share of issues when swapping. It has a device built in to look for the immobilizer around the key ring, as well as a multiplex unit that exists in the factory RSX under-dash wire loom. I would call Hondata ( and see if they can put their K-Pro software into an auto ECU, and still retain the automatic transmission functions. Either way, the automatic K series is possible, but in my honest opinion, I would just go with a manual conversion and save some headaches.

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Turbo installations can be as mild or as wild as you want them to be. Your turbo setup is only as good as the weakest link, so please remember that! An entry-level turbo kit will net you the simplest setup while still retaining the factory components on the engine. Boost levels will stay low, and power numbers will be improved, but not dramatically. When upping boost pressures, everything must be upgraded for support, and this is why you never see starter kits making tons of power, or running huge turbos.

By Ryan Basseri
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